To shock, to scream louder than everyone else, not to follow the established standards – it’s philosophy of most of young bands, becoming a necessity in the context of today’s music industry. Even if it’s said that a band is not trying to become popular, one can clearly recognize desperate attempts to attract attention. It’s sometimes difficult to say whether specific behavior is a result of an aggressive character or a typical show off, intentional and not worth any attention. Although, in this occasion, I first heard the music.
Cold screaming electronics immediately let me understand that I am not in a very hospitable home. Here, you get only what you are worth with your opinion – a cup of cold tea, a bit of not real, synthetic pie. Only till you learn how to adapt and to maintain a conversation following the rules of the owner.
Canadians Crystal Castles are scandalists. The duet, consisting a vocalist Alice Glass and a producer Ethan Kath, have already managed to become known for their live concerts, in which Alice demonstrates her agility and aggression by diving around the scene and the audience, jumping on the drums and in other ways making music of the duet meaningful. There had been occasioning, when she attacked one of their fans in a crowd with a microphone, without any reason. When watching her unpredictable behavior, we can think that it’s a part of the drastic musical performance or that it’s a form of an undiscovered illness, but it does not discourage the fanatic crowds, craving, in any means possible, to get into another performance of theirs. She’s the charisma of the duet. Maybe a bit crazed fans wrote on the internet about her fatalistic look and beauty, told about the unnamable happy moments, when, during a concert, they could get even a bit closer to Alice. The youthful energy and courage attract like bait.
Meanwhile, Ethan usually stands with a hood on his head, distancing himself from the chaos, losing himself in the job that he was given. Chaos and stability. However, it is known that in life Ethan is not a very peaceful man. As well as the rhythms of the Crystal Castles.
The official history of the band began in 2004, when Ethan Kath met just 15 year old, at the time, Alice Glass in one concert, where she sang with a punk – rock band Fetus Fatale and asked her to sing vocal parts for a couple of his recordings. After putting the recordings on the internet, they got more and more popular and song “Alice practice” later became the first Crystal Castles’ single and was released in a vinyl format. Popularity of the band grew probably by the hour — with the first album “Crystal Castles” duet began to perform in famous festivals beyond the border of Canada and to draw constantly growing support of the fans and glory by a handful. However, the group’s musical style is not easily describable with one word. Basically it’s indie electronics, mixed with 8 bit game type sounds’ aesthetics, Alice’s vocal variations from soft voice to screaming and a spice of contemporary pop and dance floor sound. All of this combines into a gross grain porridge, reminding of something nostalgic and at the same time striking over your taste receptors as if it was something energizing but not that tasty and easily digested.
However, with their second album, released in 2010 that has the same name as the first one, just with “II” added, the band softened their sound a bit – we won’t find total aggression or alternative style here anymore or at least there’s way less lo – fi sounds and nostalgia. It’s greatly expressed in creation “Celestica” – a different mood, a friendlier sound for the masses and calmly walking Alice, restrained by a neat, black dress, in the video clip. It’s difficult to compare it to such compositions as “XxzxcuzxMe” from the first album. Did Cystal Castles lose, in part, their created trail of destruction? Even if, — this way they really found themselves, by dedicating their soul to dance floors, in which they don’t go and don’t like to go. They don’t even listen do dance music. Instead of that – Joy Division and black metal.
We both hate video games. We were just breaking apart electronics and toys to get annoying sounds.
Even after having polished their sound, Crystal Castles are not out of ideas. In the song “Year of silence” from their second album we can recognize the voice of the lead singer from the band Sigur Rós, taken from the song “Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur” and used as a musical instrument. Alice sounds more silent, not so sharp, it seems that she’s not that irreplaceable anymore. The “Not in love” version with The Cure vocalist Robert Smith, received even more attention than the original one.
Crystal Castles play angry game not only in music. They borrowed the logo of Chanel fashion house and turned it into a joke, they also borrowed a drawing of Madonna, created by Trevor Brown and without any permission, printed it onto Crystal Castles T-shirts then sold them during concerts… They choose rebellion. Against what? Against the empty popular culture, against sparkling photo sessions, acted out music. Today’s electronic punks. On purpose creating brain-grating songs, hiding in black hoods and coloring their eyes. Hated by most they are here definitely not to be liked.